"Become a part of the stories that consumers are already living"

When it comes to defining what a perfect customer experience is, the definitions differ for various marketers, depending on their field and their priorities said Caitlin Nguyen, global marketing – digital & CRM lead, digital transformation at Fonterra. Speaking at the recent Customer Experience conference organised by Marketing , Nguyen is of the view that a customer's experience is largely on how the consumer perceives his/her own experience and interactions with the brand.

She adds that as people are often connected by stories, a tradition that has been around for centuries. As such, putting the focus on storytelling is also crucial in building the customer experience, she added. But despite the intuitive nature of storytelling, brands are still finding it difficult to produce stories which allow brands to connect with consumers.

But the truth is, finding and creating stories isn't all that difficult.

“Consumers are actually telling their own stories with the life choices that they make. People share special moments and certain aspects or stories of their lives,” Nguyen added. This is where the role of marketing comes in. It is essentially the marketer’s job to "shape the experience design around the stories" that consumers are telling around relevant touch points. She said:

Become a part of the stories that consumers are already living to drive relevance.

Another important facet of customer experience is obviously, creating memorable experience. But this has to be done in a simple and frictionless manner to actually work.

“Sometimes the memory of the experience is more powerful and more important than the actual experience itself. So think about providing a memorable or distinctive experience which is about the value and perception of the value equation,” Nguyen explained.

Customer experience today, she said, lives at the convergence of business, experience and technology. To effective connect with consumers, keeping it personal in the customer experience is crucial. According to Nguyen, this ensures that the moments of relevance and moments of reality are brought to life.

“The result you want touches on the consumer's perception of what they think is of value to them, and what they perceive as of utility to them. So these two things were of importance to us - value in the eyes of the consumer and perception of utility,” Nguyen said.

Agreeing with Nguyen is Tamsyn Barker, executive creative director at FreemanXP, who added that everything that organisations do today starts and ends with people.

“But what it means to be human is changing as technology plays an ever-pivotal role in business. How then, can organisations successfully incorporate these advancements while, retaining the human perspective that’s essential to interactive experiences?” Barker said.

Leverage on the small pockets of opportunity

That being said, she added that "there is huge opportunity for brands to do what the internet can’t do on its own". This refers to creating immersive experiences that “blend analog, digital, and hybrid environments” to connect people in meaningful ways.

These experiences also have a unique opportunity to offer brand experiences that invite self-expression and personal discovery.

“Moving forward, brands should expect an increase in the cross-fertilisation of ideas between educational institutions, businesses, and communities, with a focus on co-creation and crowd sourcing. Because the iterative ideas of many are often stronger than the singular,” Barker said.

According to Chris Tew, executive vice president Asia Pacific, 3radical, another enemy marketers have is time as customer interest waxes and wanes over time. Hence, interest in a brand’s product or service is likely to wane with it. He said:

There is always the danger of turning customers off if there are irrelevant communications and marketing messages to consumers.

Extending better messaging, creative, and understanding what the customer really wants is hence key to ensure that brands can better leverage on small windows of opportunities present. These opportunities are also present in the various touch points, including digital.

“We truly need to try to use our digital channels to radically increase the size of the window of opportunity we have with clients. We have access to people, in an omnipresent way, through mobile and digital aspects,” Tew said.